Truck Driver News - FMCSA Sets Top Speed for Speed Limiter Proposal.

Truck Driver News: FMCSA Sets Top Speed for Limiter Proposal

Truck Driver News – On Monday, September 25, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) amended its report, leaving the trucking industry and safety advocates in suspense about the top speed for its impending speed limiter proposal. This proposed regulation has been a topic of debate for over a year, with both supporters and opponents passionately voicing their concerns.

However, the veil of uncertainty has finally lifted, as the U.S. Department of Transportation’s September 2023 Significant Rulemaking Report now reveals that the FMCSA intends to recommend limiting most commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) to a maximum speed of 68 mph. This development is poised to have a significant impact on the trucking industry, highway safety, and interstate commerce.

The Proposed Speed Limiter Rule

The FMCSA’s proposal is expected to apply to CMVs manufactured after model year 2003 and weighing more than 26,000 pounds. According to the report, the agency is targeting December 29 for the publication of a supplemental notice of proposed rulemaking. This will initiate a period during which the public will have the opportunity to submit comments and feedback on the proposed rule.

The objective of the proposed rule, as stated in the Significant Rulemaking Report, is to enhance the safety of operations involving CMVs. It seeks to address speed differentials on the nation’s highways and supersede the notice of proposed rulemaking issued jointly by the FMCSA and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in 2016.

Mixed Reactions to the Proposed Rule

The FMCSA’s decision to set a speed limit of 68 mph has sparked mixed reactions among stakeholders in the trucking industry and the broader public. The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) has been a vocal opponent of speed limiters on CMVs. OOIDA President Todd Spencer argues that such mandates could lead to more accidents.

“Forcing trucks to speeds below the flow of traffic increases interactions between vehicles and leads to more crashes,” Spencer said. “It’ll be like an obstacle course for passenger vehicle drivers on our highways. This isn’t safe for truckers, but it is especially not safe for passenger vehicle drivers sharing the road with trucks. The unintended consequences of this misguided regulation will cost innocent lives.”

Background and Previous Opposition

The FMCSA’s pursuit of speed limiters is not a new development. Last year, the agency issued an advance notice of supplemental proposed rulemaking, which considered requiring CMVs with a gross vehicle weight of 26,001 pounds or more to be equipped with speed limiters. Although a specific top speed was not determined then, previous discussions had floated possibilities of 60, 65, and 68 mph. Safety groups lobbied for a lower limit of 60 mph.

The agency’s advance notice generated significant opposition from the trucking community. Over 15,000 comments were filed, with the majority coming from truck drivers who vehemently opposed the mandate. Some expressed concerns that such a regulation would force them out of the industry, citing the impracticality and safety risks associated with lower speeds.

Michael Perry, an owner-operator, encapsulated the sentiments of many when he stated, “This is not about safety. It’s more dangerous to be below the speed limit than to go with the traffic. If this goes into effect, I will be retiring.”

States’ Rights and Legislative Response

One of the significant points of contention in this debate is the issue of states’ rights. Since the repeal of the National Maximum Speed Law in 1995, states have had the authority to establish speed limits on their highways. Over the years, many states have determined that a uniform speed limit for cars and trucks is the safest approach.

Lawmakers who support states’ rights argue that an FMCSA mandate would infringe upon a state’s ability to determine the safest speed limits for their unique conditions. Representatives like Josh Brecheen from Oklahoma have introduced legislation, such as the DRIVE Act, to prevent the FMCSA from enforcing speed limiters on CMVs.

Senator Steve Daines of Montana shares this sentiment and has raised concerns that a mandate could decrease safety by creating a dangerous speed differential between trucks and passenger vehicles. He believes states should consider their geography and population when determining appropriate speed limits.

As the FMCSA’s proposed speed limiter rule takes shape, the trucking industry, safety advocates, and lawmakers will continue to engage in a robust debate about the potential impacts on highway safety, commerce, and the autonomy of states to regulate their roadways. The eventual outcome of this debate will significantly influence the future of trucking operations in the United States.

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